Friday, 10 June 2011

Will Chinese shoppers target the Preppy Market ? -

Lilly Pulziter dresses on 'yummy mummy' wasps photographed at Palm Beach 1965


Jackie Kennedy was the Queen of 'waspdom', even though she was Catholic -
Wasp stands for
White Anglo Saxon Protestant !
This term seems very outdated now as social mobility has changed.
Americans use the term 'preppy' or 'old money' now to define this group.  


The preppy 'wasp' image from the late 1950 early 60s in America is all about privilege, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law in the film The Talented Mr Ripley play characters from this American Old Money lifestyle.

This is a fashion shoot for British Vogue by Tom Craig 
called A place in the sun, depicting understated preppy ease. 






This wonderful image from the same shoot reflects the easy aspirational privileged  lifestyle that sells fashion so well - take note at how understated it is - no bright colours or bold stripes in the clothes!



The obligatory horse, an accessory used extensively over the years by Ralph Lauren in his marketing campaigns. 

Cache brand for teenagers Abercrombe and Fitch - preppy and sporty aspirational  with the model a Kate Middleton look alike!
Image from Abercrombie and Fitch website

Check out the Jack Wills brand photography campaign there are similar steamy images



Here we have a Ralph Lauren collection designed exclusively for Wimbledon Tennis Championships. 

Traditionally the preserve of the privileged Tennis is considered a preppy pursuit. Talent gives you an entry point into this privileged world as we have seen from the brilliant Williams sisters. Lauren is a higher price point than Hilfiger. The brand uses symbols of freedom and leisure such as sport (esp Polo and Rugby) cache cars and motor bikes now and depicts a carefree glamourous lifestyle reminiscent of the 1920s and those characters depicted in the Great Gatsby in a contemporary setting and lifestyle.

Tommy Hilfiger a more accessible price point than Ralph Lauren very successfully uses the Preppy aspirational lifestyle references in his marketing campaigns, these are: family, horses, swimming pools, leisure time - symbols of success  representative of a privileged tribe of people, the access point is money and it transcends nationality as it is all about privilege earned from hard work whatever your background Stateside, where even the likes of Puff Daddy has adopted the Country Club look. It has become an old money look for new money. Is it a coincidence that the model in the jacket has a Kate Middleton similarity?

The Brits take on the preppy - a mix of new and old styles - vintage and retro chic
Classic preppy brands are Boden, Jack Wills, Aubin and Wills, Hackett, Crewe clothing and Joules -









This is a photo from the Boden catalogue - very waspish, compare with the 1960s image at the top of this post and see what I mean !

An aspirational image of a yummy mummy with children on holiday in Cornwall probably in fashionable Rock and Padstowe, Salcombe, or Sand Banks on the UK coast. This image has all the wasp/Preppy credentials of easy going holidays in the Hamptons.  



Here below we have the 'Almanac' photography brand campaign for Jack Wills - tapping into the heritage references and privilege associated with the uniforms of the British Private and Public school / Red Brick Uni system, it is selling a style that gives you an entry point into a perceived exclusive privileged club. Jack Wills has been particularly successful at tapping into this market.  







Kate Middleton and her set are the archetypal privileged UK Wasp / Preppy tribe leaders that the brands want people to 'want to be' and aspire to emulate by buying into their image and look. 



Kate with horse and Range Rover at Cartier Polo match

The style is simple and classic and easy to wear making it very commercial.


I really like the Aubin and Wills brand photography - it is the grown up older sibling brand of Jack Wills. It is unshaven public school - unpretentious and laid back with a Rock and Roll element, this could be Jarvis Cocker from Pulp or Alex James of Blur.
It has a classless cool much like the preppy chic in the USA now, the difference is in the States the look is Matt Damon clean shaven  - 

love the styling references here - 



 Check out those shoes! laid back cool British style -

According to Toby Young membership of this elite American club is less exclusive than it sounds, having spent time researching what it means to be part of the Wasp set he maintains that it has nothing to do with good breeding - or being white, Anglo Saxon or protestant today. He has always been mystified by their ostentatious dress code with it's garish stripes and checks. Why would a genuinely privileged class want to draw attention to itself in this way. Toby Young then goes onto say once you accept that WASPs have no more claim to nobility than Sir Casper Weinburger, their flamboyant plumage makes sense. The reason they want to dress so conspicuously is that they want to lay claim to membership of a privileged class not hide it! he says that the last time he went to Bridgehampton Polo in the Hamptons he noticed the spectators had swelled to include the latest additions to America's billionaires boys club: the hip hop entrepreneurs Russel Simmons, JayZ and P Diddy. In their immaculate linen suits and freshly laundered pink shirts., they were indistinguishable from the other so-called aristocrats. Here was proof he says, if any that you don't need inherited fortune to be a Wasp. 
Kate Middleton has proved that this is the same here in the UK with her marriage to Prince William. Though the UK class system is a little bit more complex, what it has done is adapt to reflect the times, you just have to see who was on the guest list to Kate and Williams wedding to see that!
To understand the aspirations of the masses is to understand how to market fashion and make money as can be evidenced by the fashion brands mentioned above.
The Chinese like Western brands and have a porchant like the Japanese for copying us extremely well....if the West rides out the economic down turn which inevitable will effect the boom in China we will see the emerging middle class Chinese adopt this look of privilege and ease. It is the younger emerging generation who have benefited from the economic revolution in China and unlike their parents like to spend rather than save.


By Schelay McCarter 2011


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